Senior inspiring during the season of giving

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Salvation Army Capt. Stephanie Watkinson takes in all the food items donated with long-time Chatham resident Naomi Dick. For her 85th birthday party, instead of presents, Dick asked for donations for the Salvation Army food bank and Christmas basket programs.
Salvation Army Capt. Stephanie Watkinson takes in all the food items donated with long-time Chatham resident Naomi Dick. For her 85th birthday party, instead of presents, Dick asked for donations for the Salvation Army food bank and Christmas basket programs.

Remembering her own childhood as one of four children raised by a single mother, Chatham native Naomi Dick wants to pay it forward.

On her 85th birthday recently, Dick’s family had a party for her and instead of presents, her guests brought her four full boxes of dry goods for the Salvation Army food bank and Christmas food hamper programs.

“When I was a little girl, if it hadn’t been for the Salvation Army, I never would have had a Christmas,” Dick said. “I like to remember them for what they did for me.”

With a single parent struggling to make ends meet, Dick knows first hand how much the Salvation Army helps families in need, a job they have been doing in Chatham for well over 100 years.

Salvation Army Capt. Stephanie Watkinson, Community Ministry Director of the Ontario Great Lakes Division, said this month, the organization will be celebrating 134 years in Chatham. Accepting the donation from Dick, Watkinson said the Salvation Army relies heavily on the community to keep its programs running – four food banks, the Christmas toy and food program, and the housing, budgeting and gardening support programs to name a few.

For Dick, the Sally Ann (as it is affectionately known in the community) is a reminder of good things in her childhood.

“Our mother raised four of us by herself. I remember Mom having to go to work and coming home so tired,” Dick said. “It was hard on her but you don’t appreciate that until you are older.”

Her family had to move around a lot, according to Dick as some landlords weren’t accepting of four kids running around.

“We got the Christmas baskets and I remember getting an orange and some grapes, and that was the only time in the year we would get them,” Dick reminisced. “We also got these long brown stockings that we had to hold up with those rubber jar rings but they kept us warm.”

The senior said she is fortunate now that she has a wonderful family that’s good to her, and she is hoping by sharing her story she can inspire other people to help out and make donations to the Salvation Army so people living in poverty can experience a good Christmas.

She said some people donated food items and others gave her money shop for food.

For Watkinson, people such as Dick are who keep the programs running.

“When people like Naomi do what seems like a single act, but it is a generous act, that helps feed more people and every little bit helps,” Watkinson said.

The Salvation Army Chatham-Kent Ministries kicked off its annual Christmas campaign with their second annual Partners for Change event Wednesday, featuring guest speaker Joe Roberts, the man behind Push for Change, a fundraising effort to end youth homelessness in Canada.

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